There are conferences, and then there are conferences. What I mean by that is that conferences can be quite different. I am a veteran participant in the American Translators Associations annual conference, which is a very large conference with hundreds of sessions and thousands of participants. Most of the sessions are given by regular linguists and members, with expertise in specific areas.
Then there is the Swedish Association of Professional Translators annual conference. This is the second one I attend and the first one took me by surprise how different it was from conferences I was used to. But it is not different in a bad way. This association is relatively new, founded in 1990 and with about 1000 members. Most of the speakers are not translators themselves and are “hired” speakers. The handful of sessions are a mix of entertaining ones and educational ones, which is a very good mix. There were several authors invited to speak about language and “expanding horizons”, which was the theme of the conference, and my suitcase is much heavier on the way home, thanks to all the books I bought.
I listened to interesting sessions about Google, and this company’s world dominance as a search engine, but also in many other areas. I learned how value-loaded, and powerful a language can become. Depending on how you speak, which accent you have and which words you use, you are perceived and categorized quite differently by others.
The people from the company that provide my favorite dictionary tool, Wordfinder, where also there, demonstrating their product and giving training sessions. I am now a proud owner of an upgraded version of this electronic dictionary tool, and have a few more dictionaries loaded in it. I also learned how to connect the dictionaries so I can perform searches in several dictionaries at the same time, plus create my own dictionaries and import and export dictionaries.
Another very interesting session was a demonstration on how translators can use machine translation in CAT-tools, whenever there are no confidentiality issues. There were also a very interesting panel discussion with different translation service providers and translators about what the future looks like for the specialized translator, including discussion on quality versus price, buying translations, current market situation etc.
The evenings offered one buffet type dinner and one very elegant and high class sit-down dinner with great food, great company, a band and dancing to cap off the evening. I am now sitting on the train back to Stockholm, looking out at a sunny Swedish landscape where spring has finally arrived and I am very exhausted, but also very happy. I am leaving the conference with many new insights, contacts and with renewed inspiration.